Home' Queanbeyan Chronicle : Q Chronicle 05-08-2014 Contents Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 8
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Backdated rates demands 'a bloody mess' MP Barilaro says
ANGRY SCENES AT RATES MEETING
Queanbeyan residents who have been
slugged with unexpected backdated
rates bills came face-to-face with their
mayor for the first time at a heated
meeting on Thursday night.
Mayor Tim Overall and local MP
John Barilaro addressed the
100-strong crowd, many of whom said
they were facing bills for backdated
rates totalling at least $5000.
Both men held question and
answers sessions with the mayor in
particular being interrupted often by
We paid everything you asked us
to pay on time, we did what we were
supposed to do . . . you will put people
out of business with this, one resident
yelled at Mr Overall.
Mr Overall apologised to the group
on behalf of the council and said it was
a difficult situation, adding that some
council staff members had been
First of all I have to say as mayor,
I have to issue an apology to you all
that this situation has arisen through
misadministration on the part of the
council. It s a very difficult situation
for everybody, he said.
He said there would be a workshop
of councillors and senior staff next
Wednesday to look at the options the
council might be able to take.
Mr Barilaro told the crowd there
could be an option for the state
government to intervene and scrub the
rate notices if the council appealed to
the NSW parliament. But he cautioned
it could take a couple of months to
The council did not have to pursue
it in the first place. Because they chose
to pursue it and issued rate notices, the
act doesn t actually allow for rate
notices to be withdrawn. End of
story, Mr Barilaro said.
There are a number of clauses that
allow rate notices or debts to be
written off but looking at the way the
council has managed this, I don t think
any of those clauses will allow council
to do that. So it s a bloody mess.
John Zafiris and his mother, Vassiliki, have been hit with a rates bill. Picture: Melissa Adams
BACKDATED BILLS A SHOCK
Rates revision a heavy blow
Vassiliki Zafiris spent most of her working life
running the former Paragon Restaurant at 101
Monaro Street, Queanbeyan.
Now no longer able to work, the 76-year-old is
reeling after Queanbeyan City Council told her
that she will have to pay $30,000 in
supplementary rates bills.
"I have had two knee replacements, three hip
replacements, a reverse shoulder replacement
and both my hands with carpel tunnel. Now they
want to skin me alive," Mrs Zafiris said.
Her son, John, said he found out about the rates
bungle ahead of the rest of Queanbeyan while
seeking copies of rates notices for his mother in
mid-June. But the early warning hasn t eased his
mother s distress.
"Mum is not sleeping, she is worried and
upset," Mr Zafiris said.
"Just because you have property doesn t make
you rich. My family built what they have off hard
work. Mum is 76 and she just can t afford it."
Queanbeyan council advised affected
ratepayers that an audit of its property database
going back to the 2009-10 financial year had
uncovered $3.7 million worth of outstanding
Cr Jamie Cregan said he was "disgusted" by
the rates debacle and intended to move a motion
to write off the charges. He described
thecouncil s move to recoup rates retrospectively
as "a gouging of the community for extra
The owners of a large commercial property in
Queanbeyan said they were seeking legal advice
on their position after being slugged with a
$94,000 supplementary rates bill.
"It s grossly unfair," a representative of the
owners, who asked not to be named, said.
"This bill is more than double the average
annual rates at the property."
The owners lawyers were still to determine if
previous contracts would give them grounds to
recoup the backdated costs from former tenants.
Mr Zafiris contacted Queanbeyan Mayor Tim
Overall via text message on June 20 to ask for his
assistance over his mother s rates.
Cr Overall said at the time he responded to Mr
Zafiris with information that had been provided
to all councillors in a February report from
"The information report advised councillors
that there was an intention to proceed with
revised invoices for the period of five years," the
"By accepting the report councillors were
noting that this was to proceed."
Cr Overall said the day before the meeting all
councillors were provided a schedule indicating
the number of properties affected by the error,
particularly those that were up for additional bill
notices. Councillors have convened a workshop
on August 5 to review and discuss the council s
"Councillors will then be very much aware of
what they may or may not be able to put forward
at the next council meeting," Cr Overall said.
Councillors divided over backdated bills
WHAT THEY'VE SAID
MAYOR TIM OVERALL:
Cr Overall said legal advice to the council
suggests it does not have the power to write off
the rates and charges. Council will be consider-
ing recent advice from the Member for Monaro
that it has the opportunity to approach the
Minister for Local Government with a request a
special regulation be enacted given the particular
circumstances. It may well be several months
before there is a resolution one way or another."
DEPUTY MAYOR PETER BRAY:
Cr Bray said the full facts were needed to
determine possible courses of action. I m
hopeful we can reach a solution that satisfies all
parties. I think that involving the NSW
government could be a helpful pathway.
COUNCILLOR JAMIE CREGAN:
Cr Cregan said he would pursue every avenue
to right this wrong. I will never agree to
COUNCILLOR BRIAN BROWN:
Cr Brown said a remedy was needed quickly
and he would vote to waive the fees.
Its an outrageous impost on small business in
COUNCILLOR TRUDY TAYLOR:
Cr Taylor said she would not make a decision
until she had all the facts and legal advice.
COUNCILLOR SUE WHELAN:
Cr Whelan said she hoped to find a resolution
so that residents did not have to pay an unfair
Cr Winchester said he wanted to find a solution
and write off the back billing. Its a big mess,
he said. Its not good.
COUNCILLOR TONI McLENNAN:
Cr McLennan said there was a lot more to
discuss. But I think offering 5 years to pay off
five years of undercharging is reasonable of
council considering the constraints under the
COUNCILLOR JUDITH BURFOOT:
Cr Burfoot said it was unfair people were
being charged for the council s error. I am keen
to look at the options available to redress this,
including the possibility of NSW government
COUNCILLOR VELICE (VIC)
Unavailable for comment.
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